TWU and Ai Group ignite over drug debate

Rates and safety pressures push a minority of drivers to ‘ice’, union boss says

TWU and Ai Group ignite over drug debate
TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon


The Transport Workers Union (TWU) says employers should take part of the responsibility when drivers use drugs on the road.

It says it favours employer drug testing and is incensed by an Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) submission to a parliamentary inquiry that suggests union opposition to drug testing is allowing crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’) to infiltrate workplaces in the construction, manufacturing and transport industries.

"Ai Group's submission highlights research which demonstrates that employers in [these] industries are particularly affected given both the higher than average use of ‘ice’ by employees and the industry prevalence of heavy machinery and vehicle operation," Ai Group CEO Innes Willox says.

"Unions need to drop their opposition and accept drug and alcohol testing regimes that will lead to safer working environments. 

"They need to work with employers to make drug and alcohol testing regimes effective."

TWU secretary Tony Sheldon says some employers and customers in the transport sector – including Ai Group members – are creating workplace conditions that encourage drug use through lower rates and ongoing pressure to circumvent safety protocols.

"Drivers are put under pressure to skip breaks, speed, [and] drive for longer with overloaded vehicles in a stressed and tired state," he says.

"Sweating drivers and pushing them to their limit results in a small minority of drivers using drugs so they can deal with fatigue, work the long hours and meet the deadlines that are demanded of them."

Sheldon says the transport union has advocated for employers to have clear cut drug policies – including testing – since 2006.

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